Parks and Recreation Manager Jeff Budaza says they haven't yet come up with a way of persuading the cattle egrets that nest in various places around Grahamstown to leave.
Parks and Recreation Manager Jeff Budaza says they haven't yet come up with a way of persuading the cattle egrets that nest in various places around Grahamstown to leave. According to Roberts Birds of Southern Africa, the birds' natural habitat is southern African wetlands, riverine forests and moist grasslands.
They nest in tree canopies, using the height and the branches and foliage as protection from predators – which explains why they're so insistent on inhabiting the trees on Grahamstown's pavements.
But even residents who like the birds agree that the droppings that pile up under the trees they nest in are smelly and excessive.
Manager of the Grahamstown SPCA Jorinda Gardner says to keep the cattle egrets out of residential areas, the trees they like to nest in need to be cut.
"The only way they will get rid of the birds is to cut the trees short," Gardner said. "But it needs to be done out of breeding season when the chicks are old enough to fly."
Gardner was responding to questions from Grocott's Mail, after a resident wrote to express concern that trees in Bathurst Street, which have cattle egrets nesting in them, might be cut down.
"While several trees in Bathurst and Market Streets have been cut down, several in Bathurst Street remain outside the Oak Lodge," the resident – who asked to remain anonymous – wrote. "I imagine they are next on the list for cutting. These trees are still filled with egrets, which are now nesting."
Makana's Parks and Recreation Manager Jeff Budaza responded to a general question from Grocott's Mail about the resident's concern and plans for the birds.
"We are aware of these birds," Budaza wrote. "As this department we have done research on how to get rid of egrets, but unfortunately we have found no lasting solution."
In past years the department used pressurised hoses to aim water at the birds, but it backfired, Budaza said, when residents objected, saying it was cruel.
"The current plan is to cut the trees short. That works – but having said that, some residents do not want us to cut the trees that are in front of their houses."
Budaza said the Department had a list of trees to be cut – "but this process is very slow and the list is long.
"This is due to the shortage of equipment, which is the result of our financial situation."
Budaza said he encouraged residents to call the department with complaints or contact him directly on email – JeffBudaza@makana.gov.za
"Lastly, I wish to apologise for the delays [in cutting trees]once more to everyone," Budaza said.